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Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone - Learn Spanish programRosetta Stone V4 TOTALe: Spanish (Latin America) Level 1, 2 & 3

Platform:  Windows Vista / 2000 / XP, Mac OS X
Customer rating: 5 star customer rating in learning Spanish
Effectiveness in learning Spanish: 5 star effectiveness in learning Spanish
Media type: CD-Rom
Product includes: USB Headset with microphone
Manufactured by: RosettaStone
Price: $485.10

Manufactures description:
Communicate and connect with the world. Build a foundation of fundamental vocabulary and essential language structure. Develop the Spanish language skills to enjoy social interactions such as travel and shopping and learn to share your ideas and opinions in Spanish.

Product features and description:
Rosetta Stone V4 TOTALe Spanish teaches you the Spanish language using natural methods getting you to think in Spanish making learning Spanish incredibly easy. Intuitive methods help you start speaking Spanish words right from the beginning of the course. Learning Spanish with Rosetta Stone is fun as you learn at your own pace. The software keeps track of your progress allowing you to return to sections where you might have difficulty. Rosetta Stone audio companion allows the Spanish learner to take Rosetta Stone anywhere: In the car, in the gym and anywhere on the go.

About RosettaStone:
Rosetta Stone is all about learning languages. They are the number 1 providers of technology-based language learning solutions. The companies teaching methods are based off natural learning, similar to how children learning their native language. Currently Rosetta Stone offers 31 language solutions which are used by educational institutions, armed forces, government agencies and corporations.

Purchase product:
Rosetta Stone V4 TOTALe: Spanish (Latin America) Level 1-3 Set

Rosetta Stone Review

Fun, but Limited
Note: I've completed the first level's 'full year' curriculum, and I am part of the way through the second level.

Rosetta Stone is based on the premise that learning a foreign language should be just like learning your first language. That means seeing it used properly so much that you eventually glean the rules subconsciously. How many of you did conjugation sheets when you were 2? The premise is sound, but it only finds limited success.

Rosetta Stone is not for a casual learner. If you want to pick up some phrases before traveling, I would suggest looking elsewhere. You'll find yourself learning things like "the woman has her feet in the water," which may not be immediately useful, but is as valid a sentence as any other for a serious, long-term learner. You don't even learn basic greetings and introductions until the second unit.

Pros:

Method - Rosetta Stone is a joy to use. Each lesson consists of matching captions to pictures. Sometimes it's by seeing the picture and clicking the right caption. Sometimes you hear a caption being read, and you have to click the correct picture. Sometimes you type, sometimes you speak. It's simple, and it offers a major feeling of accomplishment, which motivates you to do just one more lesson. At the end of each unit, you're presented with a 'Milestone,' which plays a series of pictures taken through the eyes of a Spanish-speaking person. When prompted, you speak as the person would speak. It feels really authentic.

Immersion - This is a major selling point of the program. It's in all the commercials and advertisements online. The idea is that you aren't learning to translate, you're learning the language. You see a man waving goodbye, and you see that it's dark out. He says 'buenas noches.' I don't know what that means, technically ("good night", most likely), but I know that it's a farewell greeting to be used when it's dark out. That way, I don't need to translate in my head. It removes the step of 'how do you say that in Spanish?' from your thought process while speaking.

Cons:

Word choice - Sometimes the program seems to teach things unnaturally. For example, I was watching a DVD with the Spanish subtitles on, and the word 'husband' was translated 'marido'. Rosetta Stone teaches it as 'esposo.' After doing some research, it seems that 'marido' is the preferred term, and is used much more often. It seems that the program teaches the more proper form of the language, like saying 'dine' instead of 'eat' in English. I don't know any native speakers with whom I can verify this, but I've noticed quite a few discrepancies between Rosetta Stone and other sources of Spanish. Another is 'nice to meet you,' which Rosetta Stone teaches as 'encantado de conocerlo' (for a man meeting another man). The easier, more common term is 'mucho gusto,' in my limited experience.

Limited options - Ideally, I would like to see a version of this program that also has supplemental material of a more standard variety, such as interactive worksheets and written explanations of grammatical issues. Unfortunately, this clashes with the ideology of the whole 'natural learning' system. Realistically though, you'll need to obtain this information from another source. Having a text book or even using websites like [...] will go a long way toward clarifying and cementing the things you learn with Rosetta Stone.

Language commonality - I've used Rosetta Stone in a couple languages out of curiosity. They're all exactly the same, which doesn't make sense. Spanish, for example, is very similar to English, except for "ll", "ñ" and a couple other letters. Does there need to be a pronunciation exercise in every lesson? They only go over sounds, like "vo" and "cho", to show you how they're different. Anyone from an English background could tell them apart without thought. I can see how something like this would be vitally important in Russian or Arabic, where you have to learn a new alphabet, but every language is treated the same way.

Conclusion:
Rosetta Stone stands alone, for better and for worse. The lessons and exercises are fun, but it isn't a complete, stand-alone learning solution as you would expect at this price. It's very useful for becoming familiar with a language and building vocabulary, and it's fun and rewarding. Unfortunately, it's held back by its narrow ideology.

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